LOS ANGELES – Crenshaw Dairy Mart (CDM), a South Los Angeles nonprofit arts and activism organization, will hold its inaugural film festival this Saturday at the Miracle Theater in Inglewood, featuring a wide range of short films from 19 filmmakers of color based in Los Angeles. Selections include documentaries, narrative films, music videos and works in progress, some filmed on iPhones and some made with professional equipment, but all resonate with the CDM’s guiding principles of “Ascendancy, Abolition and Healing.”
“The intent is a local, community celebration,” said Ashley Blakeney, executive director of the CDM. Hyperallergic. The 19 films will be eligible for two awards: a $1,000 fan favorite award chosen by the public, and a $1,500 jury award awarded by the selection committee and CDM staff.
For this year’s festival, CDM leaders, in conversation with local filmmakers, chose the overarching theme “For Love” with five subcategories including “Ancestry and the Diaspora” and “Rest and the Political.”
Edette’s garden (2023) is a Southern Gothic horror film “about a lonely Creole woman who has to choose between sacrificing herself or a new friend in her carnivorous garden,” said the film’s writer and director, Guinevere Thomas. Hyperallergic – not the “typical narrative” associated with honoring one’s ancestry, he noted. The story is based on Thomas’s Louisiana Creole roots, a culture and language that are slowly disappearing.
“I use film as a way to reach out and touch my ancestors, trying to get closer and closer to the culture that I have lost (and) as a way to immortalize my culture so that no one can take it away from me again. ” said Thomas.
The documentary by Álavaro Parra. Sonidero Metropolis: Mexican sound systems in Los Angeles (2023) focuses on Cumbia music and culture in Los Angeles, specifically in communities with roots in Puebla, Mexico.
“The diaspora is one of the pillars of this film, the connection with the homeland through cumbia,” said Parra. Hyperallergic. The documentary also highlights the many disparate communities that make up Los Angeles, distinct but intertwined strands of its urban fabric. “If you grew up in East or South Los Angeles, you’ll hear these parties. You may not know exactly what they are, but the sounds permeate the weekend air in Los Angeles.”
In addition to the screening, the festival will also include a round table focused on “Abolition and Cinema”, in which they will participate Question culture founder, Richie Reseda, Question culture artist, JJ’88, artist and CDM Juice Wood Scholarship recipient, and Chanelle Elaine, founder of Kashif Incubator, an organization that supports BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and other underrepresented filmmakers, including those with disabilities.
Participants believe the CDM festival can offer different perspectives than those presented at more traditional industry-focused film events. Metropolis Sonideronoted Parra, was rejected from several Los Angeles-based film festivals over the past year “even though it has its roots in Los Angeles, with constant criticism that there are no famous cumbia people in it.”
“If there was ever a festival where this film would fit in on a regional level, this is it,” Parra said.